Thursday, June 9, 2011

The horrible flat hunt

Finding a new apartment in this city is a nightmare. We have been looking for a month now, and so far we haven’t seen anything we like. If it’s not too dirty, it’s too expensive or too far away from the areas where we want to live.

For a long time we were looking for something in Luwan, but since our budget is far from unlimited we’ve given up on that area. With what we could pay we couldn’t get anything decent anyway. Most of all I wish we could stay where we are now, but with the noisy nightclubs below our complex, it’s a no can do. I’m already sleeping with double earplugs (and I still hear the music!) and now I’ve started getting problems with my ears. We HAVE to move, but there are so few good places out there… ahhh, headache!

During the month of hunting we’ve seen some of the most disgusting places ever. I seriously cannot believe how some people are living over here. Especially one apartment, that could have been good, but that was occupied by 3 foreign ladies when we visited it, was so dirty, smelly and disgusting that I felt like throwing up. They were literally living in their own filth. Yuk! It didn’t matter that the agent reassured us that the flat would be cleaned throughout when they moved out, that image of stains, dirty underwear and piles of unwashed dishes still lingered in my brain for days.

We’ve had some real interesting encounters with agents too, simply by making the mistake of using too many. At one point we went with one agent in the morning, and had another appointment with a second one at midday. However, the first agent ended up taking us to the apartment that we were supposed to see with the second agent (who was downstairs waiting for us!). When I realized the mix-up I called the second agent and explained, and he was furious! He came upstairs and started a fight with the first agent, and then started yelling at us that if we were to rent this flat, we HAD to use him. Eh…. Right. Not the way you get customers if you ask me. We ended up turning away from both agents, as they both harassed us with phone calls for days after the incident. Funny that none of them even thought of blaming the landlord, who had obviously contacted several agents in order to get his/her flat rented out.

Anyway, we still have another month or so on our current lease, and now I’ve gone back to my old agent from when I first moved to Shanghai from Suzhou in 2010. He still calls me “Youla” and he’s still the best agent I’ve come across (honest, straight-faced and with a no-bullshit attitude) over here, however, the fact that there is not much decent stuff out there is an obvious problem, so let’s see how it goes.

I’m keen to find a clean, simple and quiet place where I can stay for a LONG TIME so that I don’t have to do this all over again. Flat hunting is simply horrible.


ewaffle said...

Sounds not unlike finding an apartment in New York City, although the rental agents are better organized. Strangely enough with parts of Brooklyn getting even more desirable than Manhattan, opening up, one would think, more places, an affordable, conveniently located place with space and light is even harder.

You can find yourself having conversations like "the crack house next door will probably get shut down" or maybe an eight block walk to the A train wouldn't be that bad."

Shanghai sounds worse--a really tough market.

m--e said...

We found our place by checking out a few of the Chinese rental sites and locating a few apartment complexes near where we'd like to live. Then we actually went to the management office and asked to see a few places. (the photos on the sites seem mostly to be fake!) we ended up with a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom place on Suzhou Creek for less than we'd previously been paying.

In general we've always found agents to only show you what they want to show you, not what you really want. Good luck!

WoAi said...

I think landlords are fine ton use multiple agents to increase the chance of finding a tenant. I've seen the same place twice with different agents and it's not a problem. If I want the apartment I just go with the one who showed me first. I think that's fair.

Good luck though Jonna, I feel your pain. I paid more rent as you know, just to avoid having to move again.